"Workers of the world unite: you have nothing
to lose but your sanity." (St. Mumbo Jumbo.)

There's a boring sameness to political life in Britain today, with all the parliamentary parties just about indistinguishable from each other. Today's politicians seem to have been poured from the same mould, made from the same middle-class, university-educated, we-know-better-than-you ingredients. But never fear, for help is at hand, and this 'MacDonaldisation' of politics can easily be overcome with just a little imagination on your part. Why not form your own political party instead, tailor-made to your own, unique requirements? It's not nearly as difficult as you'd think, and if you just follow these few, simple instructions, your left-wing street credentials will be unassailable, and you'll soon be strutting your stuff as convincingly, and sounding just as daft, as everyone else on the political block.

Step 1 – choosing a name

The first step of a journey is usually the most important, so take a while to get the name of your political party right; it'll pay dividends in the long run. Rush into it and you might never get off the starting blocks. All self-respecting left-wing parties have a three-word name to add sonority and weight to their political aspirations, so you should do the same. Don't worry if you can't think of anything for the moment; the following little table will generate a name automatically for you and guarantee that your party will arouse just the respect you'll need (or contempt, which is the same thing in left-wing politics). This respect is what will keep you warm when you're selling the all-important party newspaper in the freezing cold on bleak street corners or outside factory gates. Of course, in the beginning you won't know what factory gates look like: if you're forming a revolutionary party of the working class, then you're almost certain to be middle class yourself, but after practice you'll recognise little things like factory gates quite easily. The working classes, by the way, are the ones who live in council estates, and don't drink real ale or listen to world music; you'll soon learn how to spot them. You might even feel the need to have some in your party, but it's not actually essential; many parties of the working class manage perfectly well without any at all. Your mission in life, after all, is to rescue the working class, not socialise with them.

First Name Second Name Third Name Allegiance
Fourth International

Just pick any name from the first column, then another from the second (but not the same as the one you've just chosen from the first column, obviously) and finally one from the third. So, you could become the International Socialist League, Revolutionary Communist Tendency, Marxist Workers Party, Workers Marxist Alliance, or just about anything that takes your fancy. If it trips easily off the tongue, it'll sound good when shouted through a megaphone. The Anarchist and Syndicalist names are often combined into 'Anarcho-Syndicalist' for added effect: try it; it can be quite exhilarating.

After a few years you should be ready to add a fourth element to your party's name, one that states your allegiance as well as your intentions. This will require some knowledge of left-wing politics, as someone might just ask you what the fourth word means, so be careful. Some suggestions of what you could use are found in the fourth column of our little name-generator above, but there are many more you might want to consider as you become more experienced. The 'allegiance' is usually to an important historical figure who's contributed something to the development of socialist thought, and of whom you've become a disciple, or at least whose name you've heard of somewhere or other. So, Marxist-Leninist is a good starting point: everyone knows who they were! Rosa Luxemburg was a Polish-born communist at the same time as Lenin, but who was critical of him, so you could easily become a Luxemburgist with just a little practice. Maoist indicates pretty clearly where you stand, and no-one expects you to learn Chinese any more. The Dutch socialist Anton Pannekoek can be adopted if you want to impress your revolutionary comrades with your knowledge of this obscure figure. (Obscurity is highly valued in far-left circles, so the more obscure political thinkers you can drop into conversations, the higher your street cred will climb. Once you've been around a while you might even think of becoming a left-wing icon yourself. Don't let modesty hold you back – how do you think the others became icons?)

This is an important strand in far-left politics, so you might consider jumping on the bandwagon while it's still rolling along. (Stalin had Trotsky assassinated in 1940, but Stalinism went belly up itself after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989, so the political field is now clear for Trotskyists to flounce around relatively unhindered by their former mortal enemies.) Trotskyists come in many weird and wonderful flavours, so you could indicate your allegiance to the programme of the Fourth International created by Trotsky in 1938. But only if you want to earn the undying hatred of other Trotskyists, which, after all, is the long-term goal of all self-respecting revolutionaries. Remember, all the other left-wing groups are your real enemy, not the corrupt capitalist system you're dedicated to destroying, so this would be a good move on your part. But only when you're ready, as the abuse can be upsetting to a novice. Another Trotskyist tendency you could consider for your party are the Posadists, who are something to do with Latin America, but you needn't know exactly what. (You may have to have to listen to Cuban music if you become a Posadist, so you'll need to consider that one very carefully). While you're looking at Posadism, you could find yourself tempted by the doctrines of Pabloism. Don't be: as well as being Greek in origin, Pabolism could easily get you mistaken for a follower of the modernist painter Pablo Picasso, and all true revolutionaries regard modern art as decadent. You should, too.

All the vogue a few years ago were the Gramscists, adherents of Italian communist Antonio Gramsci – just drop one of his words, 'hegemony', into the conversation and see how you get on. Che Guevara was an Argentinean-born revolutionary who managed single-handedly to become the greatest ever T-shirt in history. Get a black beret as well, wear it at a jaunty angle, and if retro is in fashion, you needn't even read up on any Guevarist theory (but don't attempt to form a branch in Bolivia).

Long ago and far away, a certain Joseph Stalin (real name Josef Vissarionovitch Djugashvili – you'll get some Brownie points just for knowing that) was all the rage, even being known affectionately (or was it ironically?), as Uncle Joe. Unfortunately, he fell out of favour when someone spotted he was, in fact, a paranoid, mass-murdering dictator, responsible for about twenty million deaths in the Soviet Union. However, there's a lot of residual nostalgia for him in Russia and some left-wing parties here worship him still, despite his record of atrocities (or is it because of it?). Not quite as chic as Trotsky or Che Guevara, but worth a try for novelty's sake at least. Once a Stalinist you'll be entitled, should you wish, to make jokes about ice picks in reference to the weapon used to dispatch Trotsky to the other world, earning yourself in the process a reputation as a humourist, at least in the limited sense that word is understood in far-left circles.

Of course, if you're completely new to the game it might be wiser to stick to a two-word name just to start you off. You won't get quite so much respect from fellow revolutionaries to begin with, but they're all understanding folk, and you can always upgrade to a three, or even four-word name when you're more confident. Two-word party names are chosen on basically the same principle as three-word ones, namely, chose a word from the first column in the table above and then another one from either the second or the third columns. So you could become the Revolutionary Socialists, the Communist League, the Socialist Tendency, the Marxist Party, Revolutionary Anarcho-Syndicalists, Workers' Collective and so on. (But not the Labour Party; that would just be silly.)

Step 2 – Your Political Programme and Party Membership

At some point, of course, you'll have to show your hand to other far-left groups, or you'll be doomed to languish in the political shadows, alone and palely loitering. But before you do expose yourself to the full glare of public scrutiny, at some point you'll need a political programme; a manifesto; a plan of action to seize control of the reigns of power; and another plan for what to do once you've seized power, but don't worry too much about this for the moment. There'll be plenty of time for all that. You're never going to get anywhere near the reigns of a small horse, let alone the reigns of power, so you've a lifetime ahead of you to draw up all the manifestos and political programmes you can shake a stick at; your only limitation is how much paper you have at your disposal. Also, you're going to be worried in the beginning about where you should stand on Iraq; or Ireland; or the Palestinian question; or many other burning issues you haven't even heard of yet. Don't be; no-one sane is going to take a blind bit of notice of your opinions anyway, so why should you? Obviously it'll be crucial that other left-wing groups know exactly where you stand on these matters; after all, it's what makes you different from them in the first place. But if challenged, just take a leaf out of their book: steal bits and pieces from everyone else and rearrange them into your own, custom-made party line. It's an honourable tradition, after all, and works every time. To test the water, casually drop into a conversation something like: "Of course, the Soviet Union was state capitalist, not a workers' state at all". Then stand back and watch the sparks fly. Be prepared, however, to know the difference between "state capitalist", "workers' state", "deformed workers' state" and "degenerate workers' state". Or at least have someone with you as backup who does. In the distorting mirror that is the far-left, these thing matter.

Eventually your party will need to organise a 'Preparing for Power' conference to plan for the inevitable uprising of the working classes. You'll need somewhere big enough to hold the entire party membership for this crucial event, so check out the availability of that room above your local launderette. Items on the agenda should include seizing the major telecommunications centres, power stations, airports, railway stations, banks and key industries. A speech should be drafted ready to read on the radio and TV stations (once you've stormed the buildings, of course) urging the armed forces to mutiny and come over to the revolution. Don't forget, even David Steele, leader of the tiny Liberal Party, once sent the party faithful from their 1981 conference with the ringing words: 'Go back to your consituencies and prepare for government'. Of course, they failed miserably in the subsequent general election, but then they didn't have the example of Lenin's Bolshevik Party in October 1917 as their model, and anyway, you won't have to worry about such bourgeois niceties as parliamentary elections.

But what's far more important than all the programmes or manifestos under the sun is that you have at least one other member for your party. This is crucial, not just to have someone to drink with down at the pub, but because two is the least number mathematically possible for a faction to form within an organisation. A faction is the first requirement to achieve the ultimate goal of all your political ambitions – not equality for all, and an end to exploitation and world poverty (that's what you want the public to believe) – but to have a split in your party.

A split is the sine qua non of any self-respecting left-wing group and all your energies should be channelled towards this noble end. Therefore make sure whatever political programme you draw up is as ambiguous, confusing, or just downright bonkers as you can make it. This will guarantee, for certain, a falling-out at some point over a theoretical matter that is totally incomprehensible to an outsider, but will mean life or death to members of your party. Once you've spotted disagreement over the party line, pounce mercilessly on the miscreants, and the split will come as sure as the dawn. Be ruthless; if by some miracle you've made friendships in the party, be prepared to discard them: there's no room for sentiment when the future of the entire working class is at stake. A split is usually preceded by a purge, little seismic murmurings just before the full earthquake strikes, so expulsions should follow swiftly, along with the seizure of the party's assets (there may not be any, but there's no place for pedantry when the stakes are so high). Now all your carefully laid plans should come to fruition as you reveal your mastery of revolutionary tactics. Finally, announce the formation of a new party from the ashes of the old. Your enemies within the party will be routed, and where there was just one party, now there are two! You've successfully reproduced; your political DNA has been duplicated and scattered on the wind; yet one more star shines in the political firmament to illuminate, just a little, the dark night of human ignorance. Hurrah!

That's it, then: follow these few simple, tried and tested rules and you too can add your name to the left-wing hall of fame. Don't worry that your party will have absolutely no influence on anything or anyone outside the party itself: there's a certain dignity, after all, to living in an ivory tower, where the messiness of the real world can't intrude to spoil all your perfect little plans for mankind's salvation.

"Workers of the world unite: you have nothing to lose but your sanity."

©, 2005. All rights reserved.

Date this page last updated: October 1, 2010